On May 23rd, 2020, something extraordinary happened that would change my life and the life of my family forever. On that day, at our house in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, there was a “little Pentecost”. It was an amazing, astonishing, forever life-changing experience! There were no mighty rushing winds that day, surprisingly, as it did happen to be the middle of the Hurricane season. Nor was there any speaking in Spanish “as though it were my own native language,” as the baby’s doctor happened to speak English. But there was this most wonderful promise that our gracious Lord has attached to the Sacrament of Holy Baptism:
Repent and be baptized every one of you – the apostle Peter says in his Pentecost sermon – in the Name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the promise of the Holy Spirit. – Acts 2:38
Just before His ascension to the right hand of the Father, Jesus had promised His disciples that He would not leave them as orphans, but that He would send them the Spirit to comfort them, to help them, to guide them into all truth. He had promised them that the Holy Spirit would take what was His and declare it to them. On the very first Pentecost, 50 days after Jesus had risen from the dead, conquering sin, death and the devil for us, our ascended Lord did just what He said He would.
There as the disciples huddled together in one place for fear of death and completely uncertain about what the future held, Jesus sent the promised Holy Spirit, and He came, and began His work of taking what Jesus had done and delivering it to the world. He came, and resting above the disciples like tongues, the Holy Spirit preached through the mouth of apostles. In every language known to the inhabited world He delivered to all those present the death and resurrection of Jesus, repentance and forgiveness of sins in His Name.
On the very first Pentecost, Jesus kept His promise, the Holy Spirit came and He began His work. Peter stood up that day and preached with boldness the mighty works and wonders that God had done through Jesus – how God had delivered him up to be crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men, but then raised him up in victory over death. “Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.
When the multitude of men from all over the world had heard this,
they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “what shall we do? And Peter said to them, repent and be baptized every one of you for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
and here is what is so astounding, and amazing, and life-changing for us today, two thousand years later, this good news that the promise of the Holy Spirit is also for you. Peter continues,
For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to Himself. – Acts 2:29-41
The Sacrament of Holy Baptism is the fulfillment of this promise of Pentecost for you! The same promised Holy Spirit that was poured out on the disciples on that first Day of Pentecost is also promised to be poured out on every Christian in the waters of Baptism. He saved us – the Holy Spirit preaches through the apostle Paul – not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ, our Savior. – Titus 3:5-6
When a sinner is washed with the water and the Word in Holy Baptism, the Holy Spirit is poured out on them richly through Jesus Christ. Whether it’s the baptism of a 4-day old baby in a house on an island, or of a 15 year old young man at Church in the desert, every single Baptism into Christ for the forgiveness of sins is a “little Pentecost”! Jesus keeps His promise, the Holy Spirit comes, and He begins His work of delivering all the gifts Jesus won on the cross to you.
My son Joseph’s little Pentecost took place at our house in Puerto Rico, but this was not the original plan. Joseph was born one week before our congregation, in Mayaguez was hoping to return to in-person church after months of meeting online due to the pandemic. We were hopeful and excited about the possibility of returning to in person worship with the celebration of a Baptism. It was going to be a wonderful thing that these two things would coincide.
Now I have to tell you something about our Puerto Rican brothers and sisters: they like to party! And so we were looking forward to una fiesta. An all out celebration, the first time in a long time, receiving our Lord’s Body and Blood, as well as the first time our dear brothers and sisters there would meet and welcome our little Joey to the family. But after talking to our doctor that day, we learned that Joseph needed to be taken to the NICU. It was the middle of the pandemic and didn’t know how serious things were with his health, and so we decided to have an emergency Baptism there at our house before going to the hospital.
If you look at the pictures, or the one picture we have of this celebration, you’ll only see my family standing at our kitchen table with a laptop and bowl of water. There really were no mighty rushing winds, no speaking in tongues, no flames, no powerful preaching, no exciting fiesta, but there was a promise that the Holy Spirit would come. And as we huddled together in fear not knowing what the future held, Jesus sent His Spirit to my son. And that promise was fulfilled, as Joseph was washed with the Word, and received the Holy Spirit on that day, made it the most amazing, astonishing, life-changing day for us. Alex, that day for you is today. I hope you never forget it.
Dear Christian, I hope you’ll never ever forget your little Pentecost either. On that day, the day you were baptized in the Name of Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins, the Holy Spirit came to you, and He began His good work of taking what belongs to Jesus and declaring it to you. On that day Jesus’ innocence became your innocence. His righteousness and blessedness, your righteousness and blessedness. The Holy Spirit sanctified you, He made you Holy by taking Jesus’ righteousness, and applying it to your account. He called you who were far off. He gathered into His holy Christian Church, where he daily and richly forgives you all of your sins, where He will keep you in the one true faith unto life everlasting. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.